Since Jen, Kate and Hannah moved away to their own homes, the Christmas Holidays has been evolving.
I remember the childhood years, when everybody believed in Santa. Santa was allowed to show up whenever he liked, but the rule for the children was, "Play in your rooms until 8am, THEN get us up!" Santa had obligingly left stockings at the foot of beds for the purpose.
Having secured a bit of a lie-in, we the parents, then presided over the grand opening of the big presents around the tree at a reasonably decent hour. Dolls, bicycles, electronic toys and books gradually giving way over the years to scarves, different kinds of books, and beauty products ... One constant though, was Santa's Little Helper, otherwise known as Dad, passing around the black plastic rubbish bag for immediate disposal of the discarded wrappings.
Preparation for big dinner always began during, Carols from Kings College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve. I would return from Midnight Mass and peel, scrape chop and slice to the accompaniment of divine music from a heavenly choir.
The dinner menu was unvaried, capon, (or turkey in latter years) Betty Crocker's bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts and carrots with cranberry sauce and gravy. Pudding was always the same too - everybody got to choose. So for the week before the Big Day I would be baking: Sticky Toffee Pudding, Texas Millionaire Pie, Pecan Pie, and traditional Christmas Pudding with THICK custard (for Dad). I rarely made the Christmas Pudding, I admit, it was usually a bought one soused with extra booze.
Boxing Day was leftovers and Tuna Plait.
Wonderful, wonderful memories!
And now, our one family has become four families, and it's a delight to watch them make their own Christmas traditions, and wonderful to be able to share them.
I still get to do the puddings though.
Merry Christmas Everyone!